Some have griped that this type of sophomoric material is beneath De Niro. After all, the man has Oscars and accolades to burn—he's frequently hailed as "the greatest actor of his generation." What's he doing in this? He plays recent widower Dick Kelly. When we first meet him, Dick seems quietly dignified. He's mourning the passing of his wife and, at the funeral, his son (Dermot Mulroney) asks him to accept a ride to Boca Raton from grandson Jason (Efron). Cataracts have robbed Dick of his ability to drive. Jason's in the midst of planning his wedding, but agrees to the drive in order to satisfy his dad.
Why are they road-tripping to Boca Raton (from Dick's home in Georgia)? Who knows, it's just an excuse to get the old man and the young man on the road for booze- and drug-fueled hi-jinks. Turns out Dick wants to belated sow his wild oats. Due to his wife's longtime illness, his sex life went kaput some 15 years prior. He's ready to score with college girls and finds a willing candidate in Lenore (Aubrey Plaza). He also aims to awaken the wild side in Jason, who's getting married to stuffy, uptight Meredith (Julianne Hough).
Enough set up, this is basically an endless parade of deliberately "un-P.C." humor that mostly falls flat. The new Blu-ray edition offers an "unrated cut," but the truth about Dirty Grandpa is that it isn't all that daring or subversive. It's just variations on the typical potty-mouth (often homophobic) jokes that have been heard a million times before. While there are occasional genuine chuckles sprinkled throughout (Lenore's friend Shadia, played by Everybody Wants Some!!'s Zoey Deutch, calls Jason a "Mitt Romney Terminator"), there are no surprises. There's also no heart—there's not reason to care at all about any of these characters (that's another reason to opt for Bad Grandpa over this).
Let's go back to the issue of why a legend like De Niro would stoop to this level. I think it's worth pointing out that at this point, De Niro isn't the artist he was in decades past. In most cases these days, he generally slips into one of a few well-worn personas instead of investing any real invention in his portrayals. Even when he's in more serious films (like the recent work of David O. Russell) he's pretty uninspired. De Niro has been coasting for about the past 20 years. In light of all the direct-to-video films he's been phoning it into lately, his presence in this crap shouldn't come as a big surprise.
Lionsgate's Blu-ray presents zero issues in terms of technical presentation: the high definition transfer is fine, as is the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. Special features are relatively satisfying (given that the film wasn't terribly successful, it might've been tempting to short-change viewers on extras), including a "Filthy Filmmakers Who Have No Shame Audio Commentary," a too-short gag reel (there had to have been funnier outtakes than what's here), and a quartet of fluffy, short (under ten minutes each) featurettes.
Our review copy arrived packaged in a sealed evidence bag that contained a bunch of items that were kinda more fun than the movie itself. The "evidence" included a bikini top, cocktail recipe card, a child-proof medicine bottle marked "Dick's Little Helpers" (Tic Tacs, in reality, if you must know), and even a condom (extra large, in case you were wondering). Kudos to the marketing department for having fun with Dirty Grandpa, but too bad the movie itself is a dud.